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 December 11, 2006VOL. 44, NO. 22Oakland, CA
News in Brief

Grief in Lebanon
Patricia Gemayel, wife of assassinated Lebanese Industry Minister Pierre Gemayel, cries over his coffin in St. George’s Cathedral in Beirut, Lebanon, Nov. 23. Gemayel, a Maronite Catholic from a prominent Lebanese family, was killed by gunmen while driving through a Beirut neighborhood Nov. 21. Since the assassination, civil unrest has deepened in the country.

Maryknoll orphanage
gets important visitor

Former U.S. President Bill Clinton hugs a girl infected with HIV at the Maryknoll orphanage in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Dec. 4. Maryknoll Cambodia, a Catholic organization, provides HIV treatment, including pediatric formula provided by the Clinton Foundation HIV/AIDS Initiative, to more than 300 children.

L.A. Archdiocese settles 45 sex abuse cases
LOS ANGELES (CNS) -- The $60 million settlement of 45 cases in which clergy had been accused of sexual abuse is “fair and just,” Cardinal Roger M. Mahony of Los Angeles said Dec. 1. The archdiocese said its share of the settlement was about $40 million, with the remainder covered by insurance companies or religious orders.

In a statement, the cardinal also termed the settlement “a positive step forward in the Church’s efforts to promote healing and reconciliation for those who have suffered abuse by members of the clergy.”

He also made a personal apology to all victims of abuse by a priest, religious or deacon in the archdiocese. “The sexual abuse of minors is both a sin and a crime, and there is no place in the priesthood for those who have abused children,” he added.

Pediatrician given $1 million Opus Prize
NOTRE DAME, Ind. (CNS) -- Dr. Zilda Arns Neumann, a 63-year-old pediatrician in Brazil, has received the $1 million Opus Prize from the University of Notre Dame president. In 1983 she founded Pastoral da Crianca (Pastoral of the Child) to address the health issues of women, children and families. Utilizing the country’s strong Catholic infrastructure and made up of more than 264,000 volunteers, Pastoral da Crianca promotes faith and knowledge with an emphasis on the community as family.

Pope saddened by illicit Chinese ordinations
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Benedict XVI was deeply saddened by the Nov. 30 ordination of a Chinese bishop without Vatican approval, an act that can further fracture the Catholic community in mainland China.

The Vatican said officials found out at “the last minute” about plans to ordain Father Wang Renlei, 36, as coadjutor bishop of Xuzhou, China, at the diocese’s Sacred Heart of Jesus Cathedral. Still, Vatican officials did what they could “so that this act, which would have produced a new laceration in the ecclesial community, would not come about,” the Vatican said in a Dec. 2 statement. The new bishop and the bishops who ordained him face automatic excommunication if they acted of their own free will.

Bishops call for peace after president is sworn in
MEXICO CITY (CNS) -- The Mexican bishops have called for peace and reconciliation between Mexico’s political factions and citizens following the contested swearing-in ceremony of Mexican President Felipe Calderon.

They also called for progress in relieving poverty, combating organized crime, reducing corruption and improving education. Cardinal Norberto Rivera Carrera of Mexico City said Dec. 3 the new president needs help if these problems are to be solved. “It’s the work of all Mexicans; a president of the republic can’t just wave a magic wand to transform our reality,” he said following Mass in the Metropolitan Cathedral in Mexico City. “It requires us all.”

Computer games designed for religious education
WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Two Catholic publishers have announced the launch of new educational video and computer games designed to make learning about the Catholic faith and the Bible more fun.

“Classroom Jeopardy! Catholic Edition” -- developed in cooperation with the makers of the award-winning television show -- is now available from the Pflaum Publishing Group. “Gospel Champions,” a new series of educational computer games based on the Gospel readings, resulted from a partnership of Catholic publisher Silver Burdett Ginn Religion with Third Day Games. The games can be used in traditional Catholic classrooms or in parish religious education, catechist formation and confirmation programs or for retreats, community events, family game nights, church festivals or fundraising activities.

Vouchers barred in Maine religious schools
WASHINGTON (CNS) -- A ruling upholding a school voucher program’s exclusion of religious schools was allowed to stand Nov. 27 by the Supreme Court. By declining to review Maine’s voucher law, the court let stand a bar on vouchers being used at religious schools. Prior to 1980, students in small Maine towns with no high schools could use tuition vouchers to attend the secondary school of their choice, including religious ones.

In 1980 the state attorney general said the policy violated the U.S. Constitution’s Establishment Clause separating church and state, and in 1983 the state Legislature codified the decision, eliminating religious schools from the program.

Currently about 17,000 Maine students in 145 small towns use vouchers to attend public and private high schools in the state and out of state. The Maine Supreme Judicial Court in April ruled the restrictions are constitutionally valid because they stem from the Legislature’s desire to comply with the Constitution, not from religious hostility.

Polish bishops to probe communist infiltration
WARSAW, Poland (CNS) -- The Polish bishops’ conference has launched a historical commission to investigate the infiltration by communist agents in the Church. Auxiliary Bishop Piotr Libera, general secretary of the Polish bishops’ conference, said the bishops would approve “competent experts” to help the commission, which will be chaired by a former constitutional court judge. The commission will rely on Poland’s National Remembrance Institute, which controls access to former police files..

Philbin wins $50,000 for Catholic school
NEW YORK (CNS) -- Cardinal Hayes High School in the Bronx has an extra $50,000 to put into its current capital campaign, thanks to TV talk-show host Regis Philbin, the school’s best-known alumnus. Philbin was a guest on “Celebrity Jeopardy” and answered the winning question in the “Final Jeopardy” round.

Court asked to rehear case on contraceptives
ALBANY, N.Y. (CNS) -- Claiming that New York’s highest state court erred on several counts in upholding a state mandate that would require religious organizations to provide contraceptive prescription coverage for their employees, eight Catholic and two Protestant groups have asked the New York Court of Appeals to rehear the case. The court’s Oct. 19 decision also failed to consider that the “practical impact” of the legislation could be the opposite of the law’s intended effect, by providing an incentive for religious employers to cancel prescription coverage altogether, the groups said. motion said.

Islamic studies find niche at Catholic colleges
WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Demand for university classes on Islam has increased in recent years and Catholic colleges are keeping pace by offering individual courses and seminars on Islam, advanced degree programs in Islamic studies, and campus centers aimed to promote Muslim-Christian understanding.

Some campuses are also providing a prayer room or campus mosque so Muslim students can pray five times a day. At Georgetown University in Washington, Muslim students also can speak regularly with an imam since the school became the first American university to hire a full-time Muslim chaplain seven years ago.

Although there are no accurate figures on the number of Muslim students at Catholic colleges, the numbers have gone up in recent years, according to administrators who have seen more students participate in campus-sponsored associations for Muslim students.

Santa Rosa bishop to undergo counseling
WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Bishop Daniel F. Walsh of Santa Rosa agreed Nov. 20 to enroll in a diversion counseling program in lieu of facing possible criminal charges for his delay in reporting allegations that one of his priests sexually abused a minor. Bishop Walsh publicly apologized for failing to report the alleged abuse to authorities immediately and said he would accept “whatever punishment is imposed.”


Bethlehem hospital is beacon of hope
Holy Family Hospital of Bethlehem, designated by Pope John Paul II as one of his top 100 projects of the new millennium, is a beacon of hope for Palestinian women in desperate need of healthcare.
Considered the pre-eminent provider of medical services in the Holy Land, the hospital treats poor and destitute mothers and babies of the Bethlehem region. It is the only obstetrical/gynecological facility in the region that can handle the complicated medical conditions of women living in extreme poverty and under the shadow of political strife.

Women in high risk pregnancies can also receive long-term care there. The facility, which serves some 22,000 woman and children each year, has the only neo-natal intensive care unit in the area.


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